The marigold has large, bright yellow or orange flowers that resemble daisies. Here are some interesting facts on this somewhat overlooked flower and some tips on how to grow it in your own garden.
The story of the marigold
In ancient Rome, it was used in broths to improve mood. In India, the flowers decorate the altars of Hindu temples. This plant has several names: calendula, marigold, ruddles, calendula flower, to name a few.
- Its aromatic leaves are simple and oblong.
- The flowers grow up to seven centimetres in diameter.
- We use the petals.
- The marigold is not to be confused with the African or French marigold, which were produced by crossbreeding with Mexican species of the genus Tagetes.
- Some marigolds have fully flowering heads, such as the signet marigoldT. tenuifolia, with yellow flowers and leaves that give off a lemony scent, or Mexican Marigold (T. lucida).
Varieties: The original wild marigold is a single flower, but over the centuries, humans have opted to plant double flowers, as they are more spectacular and last longer.
- So we now have the dwarf flower “Fiesta Gitana”, which grows up to 20 centimetres, and “Princess”, which reaches 60 centimetres, with long stems that make for a great cut flower.
- The German variety “Erfurter Orangefarbigen” is cultivated and sold in Europe as a medicinal plant.
- One remarkable unique variety, Calendula officinalis or “Prolifera”dates back to the 16th century, and is still produced, recognizable for its main flower surrounded by smaller flowers at the base.
Location: The marigold prefers full sun and soil that is relatively fertile and well drained.
Propagation: The large seeds are easy to sow and germinate quickly. Children can grow them easily. They are sown directly in the ground in spring.
Care: Regularly cut dried heads to prolong flowering.
Pests and diseases: The marigold is susceptible to mildew in autumn. The variety ‘Orange Gem” is strong.
Harvesting and conservation: Collect the petals once the dew has evaporated, then spread them in a thin layer on trays covered with paper, in a well-ventilated area away from the sun.
- When dried, store the petals in airtight jars.
- For optimal medicinal use, dry whole flower heads, and make sure they are dry before putting them in pots.
Marigold flowers have considerable healing and local anti-inflammatory properties. Apply topically on wounds, cuts and burns as an ointment, cream or infused oil.
- Mildly astringent, marigold can help to stop bleeding and prevent risk of infection thanks to its antimicrobial effects.
- Use marigold tincture as a mouthwash to treat infections of the gums and ulcers.
- It is also a good anti-fungal agent for treatment of fungal skin infection.
- Traditionally, the flowers are taken internally for infections and inflammation of the intestines, including ulcers of the stomach and duodenum, and as lymphatic remedy for swollen tonsils.
- For proper use, consult your doctor or herbalist.
- If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, do not ingest marigold, but do apply locally.
Now that you know more about the marigold, you can enjoy the plant for its beautiful flowers or even its medicinal benefits.